Stepping up support for Pacific island countries on maritime boundaries

21 June 2019.

The Australian Government is reinforcing and increasing our longstanding support to Pacific island countries to define their maritime zones and secure their rights within those zones.

The ocean is critically important to the states of the Pacific – for cultural identity, food security and economic development.

At the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum, leaders acknowledged the urgency and importance of securing the region's maritime boundaries as a key issue for the development and security of the 'Blue Pacific Continent'.

Under the Australian Government Office of the Pacific, we have established a dedicated Pacific maritime boundaries section that is working closely with the region to help Pacific island countries secure their rights and entitlements stemming from maritime zones.

Our stepped-up effort includes additional funding of $3.5 million to the Pacific Community (SPC) to help address the risks to maritime boundaries from sea-level rise, and other climate change-related impacts. This brings our investment on Pacific maritime boundaries to $8.5 million.

Australia has long supported Pacific island countries in defining their maritime zones and settling shared boundaries through the Pacific Maritime Boundaries Project.

Since 2011, 15 shared boundaries have been negotiated and more than half of Pacific island states have revised their maritime zone limits and lodged this information with the United Nations.

This initiative is in addition to a range of Australian investments to support sustainable oceans in the Pacific, including the new $16 million (2019-2025) Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP). POLP will implement the Pacific Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter in collaboration with the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).